Equal Pay Day falls on Monday 4 September this year, marking the additional days from the end of the previous financial year that women must work to earn the same pay as men.
Using Average Weekly Earnings data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, FlexCareers partner the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) calculates the national gender pay gap to be 15.3% for full-time employees, a difference of $251.20 per week.
WGEA Director Libby Lyons said Equal Pay Day was an important reminder of the continuing barriers women face accessing the same financial rewards for their work as men.
“Australia has achieved genuine equality between women and men in education,” said Ms Lyons, “However, the persistent gender pay gap reflects the barriers women face in accessing equivalent pay packets to men”.
The issue is further compounded by the fact that women are much more likely than men to experience unpaid absence from the workforce, including taking parental leave, working part-time whilst raising a family, and taking carers leave to look after aged relatives.
“Organisations need to commit to analysing the gender pay gap across like for like roles, and take action to address areas where we know inequalities are likely to emerge” says FlexCareers CEO Natalie Goldman.
“An example of this is during the hiring process, where organisations tend to benchmark a persons salary offer against the salary they earned in their last role. We need to size the role and pay the appropriate salary for that role, rather than inheriting existing pay gaps that women may have experienced”
Ms Goldman goes on to say that to achieve equal pay, we need to look at more than just a woman’s current salary, “many educated and talented women are leaving the workforce due to a lack of flexibility. In order to achieve equal pay, we need to do more to support women to balance caring commitments with their careers, and encourage men to share the caring responsibilities. If we support and enable women to remain in the workforce, then we improve their potential to earn the same as men.”
Whilst the gender pay gap has deceased 3 percentage points since last year, FlexCareers believe Australia needs to work harder. WGEA agrees, says Ms Lyons, “closing the gender pay gap must be recognised as an urgent social and economic priority.”
About the national gender pay gap
The national gender pay gap is the difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time base salary earnings, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings. It is a measure of women’s overall position in the paid workforce and does not compare like roles.
- discrimination and bias in hiring and pay decisions
- women and men working in different industries and different jobs, with female-dominated industries and jobs attracting lower wages
- women’s disproportionate share of unpaid caring and domestic work
- lack of workplace flexibility to accommodate caring and other responsibilities, especially in senior roles
- women’s greater time out of the workforce impacting career progression and opportunities.
- The national gender pay gap is 15.3%. It has declined from 16.2% in the past 12 months.
- The gender pay gap is highest in the 45-54 age group at 20.0%.
- In the past 20 years, the national gender pay gap was highest in 2014 at 18.5% and lowest in 2004 at 14.9%.
- Increasing women’s workforce participation by 6% could add $25 billion a year to Australia’s GDP. More information: Gender pay gap statistics fact sheet
Which organisations are actively pushing for change
FlexCareers is an Equal Pay Day Supporter and is proud to support our Employer Partners that have publicly committed to change
37 FlexCareers employer partners are WGEA Pay Equity Ambassadors, including CEO’s from organisations such as Viva Energy, who recently announced an Australian First to pay full superannuation benefit at 12% on unpaid parental leave AND for up to 5 years while employees work part-time to care for children (read more here) and Stockland who have developed a strong program to support parents and carers, with initiatives include on-site childcare, expanding their current range of parental leave benefits, and strongly promoting primary carer’s leave to male employees (read more here).
In addition to being Pay Equity Ambassadors, a number of FlexCareers partner CEO’s also take active roles in organisations such as the Male Champions of Change (AU), Champions for Change (NZ), developing strategies and tools to achieve pay equity and drive change across their respective industries.
Steve McCann, Group CEO and Managing Director of FlexCareers partner Lendlease, features as one of the four case studies in the recent Male Champions of Change report, Closing the Gender Pay Gap where he says,
“There is no excuse for men to be paid more than women for work that has the same accountability, breadth and difficulty, and for which they have comparable performance, competence and experience,”
“We’ve learned that gender-based pay gaps can be both common and insidious – particularly in historically male-dominated sectors. Having regular, scrutinised and actioned reporting is a game changer – real-time access to relevant data becomes hard to ignore and demands action.”
So what can organisations do to close the gender pay gap?
“Addressing the national gender pay gap requires the effort of our whole community,” said Ms Lyons, “Employers must step up and play their part. All leaders have the power to analyse their data and take action on pay gaps within their organisations.”
In a 2015 WGEA case study, FlexCareers partner Commonwealth Bank shared how leadership commitment and system interventions, such as performance reviews for employees on parental leave, can help reduce the risk of like-for-like gender pay gaps emerging. They identified a number of hot spots where inequality in pay was likely to manifest:
So is pay equity difficult to achieve?
“Organisations must have a simple principle of like pay for like work. We are committed to gender pay equity across our organisation” says Commonwealth Bank CEO, Ian Narev. “We monitor and analyse our talent management data, including pay, by gender and then take action.”
WGEA offers a range of toolkits and case studies to support organisations to close the gender pay gap, and both the Male Champions of Change and Champions for Change also offer a range of support materials which FlexCareers encourage all organisations to take full advantage of.